General Discussion Triathlon Talk » First trail race - fail! Rss Feed  
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2014-11-10 7:33 AM

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Algonquin, IL
Subject: First trail race - fail!
Did my first trail race this weekend (10 miles) and finished DFL in my age group. Just a poor performance. My training went well and was running 8:30-8:45 miles on my long runs. However, I never ran on a trail before and assumed it was a nice stroll on crushed limestone. Um, no. Mostly single track with roots, stones and steep uphill/downhill sections.

I decide to just use my regular Newton Distance S shoes and my feet took a beating. And I tripped and fell around mile 8. Overall, a big fail. My biggest disappointment was that I basically gave up on the second 5 mile loop and I never give up. Time was 1:45:10. Not a way to end my season.

Questions and/or thoughts:

1. Do “trail” shoes make that much difference? I looked at a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes but couldn’t justify the price for a one-off race.
2. HTFU and get back out for some easy runs and do a 5K for the holidays to regain some confidence.
3. Next time, do not underestimate the trail. I live close enough to have gotten there to practice.

Overall, I did enjoy the experience at first, but it was a tough, ego-killing day.


2014-11-10 8:00 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
Well Trail shoes will help some depending on the trail conditions but certainly are not absolutely necessary, having a hard toe cap and rock plate can be especially useful in the mountains on rocks.
Certainly don't pass trail running by from this one experience as you discovered running trails well generally requires a higher fitness level then running on roads due to the twists and turns and generally more elevation changes associated with trail running ( Stronger Core Required) , if you were doing 8:30's on the road then + 30 to 45 seconds / mile on trail is probably were you want to be maybe even a full minute depending on the difficulty of the trail till you get the hang of it. I actually run the same or a bit faster on trail once I get into my grove as I do on the road but it takes time and practice.

So run More trails, look for lots of different type of trails to run on single tracks, fire roads ,groomed crushed stone, , personal I luv rootty rocky single tracks and practice practice practice More, personally I now only run on the roads when absolutely necessary and stick to trails when ever possible.

Certainly try another one and get out there and practice on trails, to run trails you really need to RUN trails the more the better. When I discovered trail running I didn't go back on the road for another race for almost 4 years.

Edited by RRH_88 2014-11-10 8:03 AM
2014-11-10 8:00 AM
in reply to: 0

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Regular
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Pueblo, Colorado
Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
Don't be so hard on yourself! Trail running is very different than regular running. For starters, your pace will be very inconsistent due to the climbing and descending that is part of trail running (the roots, stones, logs, etc. compound this fact). I've never used trail shoes, so I can't speak to the difference, but most of what I've read suggests that a sturdy pair of running shoes will work on most terrain. Finally, for what it's worth, I usually finish in the top third or so for my age group in most triathlons and road races. When it comes to trail races however, I'm way towards the back overall and in my age group. I still love trail running/ racing though; You just can't beat the scenery Best of luck on your next effort!

Edited by tedjohn 2014-11-10 8:01 AM
2014-11-10 10:19 AM
in reply to: 0

Master
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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!

Originally posted by cartman1966 Did my first trail race this weekend (10 miles) and finished DFL in my age group. Just a poor performance. My training went well and was running 8:30-8:45 miles on my long runs. However, I never ran on a trail before and assumed it was a nice stroll on crushed limestone. Um, no. Mostly single track with roots, stones and steep uphill/downhill sections. I decide to just use my regular Newton Distance S shoes and my feet took a beating. And I tripped and fell around mile 8. Overall, a big fail. My biggest disappointment was that I basically gave up on the second 5 mile loop and I never give up. Time was 1:45:10. Not a way to end my season. Questions and/or thoughts: 1. Do “trail” shoes make that much difference? I looked at a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes but couldn’t justify the price for a one-off race. 2. HTFU and get back out for some easy runs and do a 5K for the holidays to regain some confidence. 3. Next time, do not underestimate the trail. I live close enough to have gotten there to practice. Overall, I did enjoy the experience at first, but it was a tough, ego-killing day.

I think you just got a nice wake-up on how tough trail running can be. Think I know what race you did and almost did the 5 mile version myself, decided I had enough other races going on and didn't want to burn out. I haven't done the specific route of the race, but have been right in that area on the bike path that goes through it. The advertisements for this rate really undersold how difficult (awesome) the course could be. On the paved bike path sections the hills are fairly short, but they're also quite steep. I need a rather strong burst to get up and over them. I would expect at least as difficult on the non-paved sections where I'm not sure bikes are even allowed.

Trail shoes can help with things, but I think it's more in being prepared for the running than just looking at a simple shoe fix. You need to be ready for a wide variety of paces. And to be able to change pace quite quickly. Also for changes in steps. It's not a constant motion that you find on smoother roads or even limestone paths as there are many small obstacles to maneuver around. Your mental awareness needs to be much higher and more alert because of this and it can be tough to do, potentially making things much less enjoyable if you weren't expecting it or don't have any experience with it. Pacing has to be very in tune with effort as opposed to using mile pacing to get you through. I saw everywhere from 5 min to 13 min per mile on a recent one and the slower paces were much higher effort!

Definitely dust yourself off and get back out there. Do some races you are more familiar with. This race by no means you have not made any gains. Just a strong exposure to other demands that a race may call into play. You will do well with road races coming right up. With a little practice the trail race can go much better. I had a night and day difference between a spring 10k and fall 8 mile, both up in Wisconsin. I was expecting the spring to be hard though due to lack of run training over the winter and it sure was! I barely made 8 min miles and was beat. The second one I ran much better and was still feeling very strong at the end.

If interested in revenge, there is the Frozen Gnome 10k in January in the same spot. They'll run this with snowfall too. Just make sure you don't hit the 50k! Not yet at least.



Edited by brigby1 2014-11-10 10:20 AM
2014-11-10 11:03 AM
in reply to: cartman1966

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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
I would rather run on the trails than the road any day. Where I live, the trails are very technical, so a trail-specific shoe does help. The toe bumper is good to have, and the soles are a bit stickier with more tread. One thing about trail running is that it works the entire body, especially all those little balancing muscles. It is also really good for developing agility, coordination, and a lighter step, as you found out from the fall. Also, don't worry about the fall. It happens to everyone, and the more you run, the less you will fall. It does help if you know how to fall safely, though.
'
2014-11-10 11:46 AM
in reply to: cartman1966

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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!

Did you get eaten by a bear, mountain lion, or mosquitoes?  Those would be race failures...  

You went from running 8:45 miles on the road to 10:30 miles on the trail.  Not an unreasonable drop in speed IMO if you're navigating hiking trails and not a converted railroad bed.  I'd typically go from 9 min/mile to 11-12 min/mile when I did trail runs.  It's hard to run up a steep incline.  It's hard to run down a steep incline.  It's hard to run when the trail falls away sideways.  Throw in mud, rocks, roots, branches (yea...my first trail run every I smacked straight into a low hanging branch...) and some navigation and you'll find out trail running is vastly different than pounding out miles on the road.  

Trail shoes can make a big difference, but it all depends on the shoes and the trails.  My "trail shoes" are generally grey versions of road shoes (I haven't been running in highly technical trail shoes).  They have decent cushioning and a little more tread than road shoes.  At the same time, I've seen people do ultras wearing Vibram Five Fingers and other minimalist shoes.  Shoes that drain well can be beneficial if you run through water.  

Yea...if you're going to race on the trails, run on the trails.  



2014-11-10 12:06 PM
in reply to: cartman1966


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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
As everyone said, don't worry about your place or pace, it will all come with more training on trails. My biggest hurdles have been when I train flat and road and then try to run hilly trails, you can tell you arent trained for the terrain.

I run in my road shoes, kinvaras, and unless I was doing a course with serious stuff (a lot of rocks, mud) I will continue to run in road shoes as they do well on most singletrack dirt or other conditions. I've used them in 5ks to ultras, no issues with cushioning or durability. I used to use trail shoes (la sportivas or TNFs), and they were fine but overbuilt for the terrain many races are on.

Glad you enjoyed it though, the enjoyment factor is multiples over roads for me.

2014-11-10 12:58 PM
in reply to: ilikepizza

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Algonquin, IL
Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
Thanks all!
In hindsight, there was a 5 mile option that I should have taken as my first time. I really wanted to do a late season HM but my schedule didn’t work out and this race is local for me. I have a bad habit of overestimating my training and underestimating the race (see Racine 2012).

I may take a shot at the Frozen Gnome on Jan. 10th, same general course and 10K. I hate it when the course gets the best of me.
2014-11-10 10:45 PM
in reply to: cartman1966

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
1. Trail shoes are not necessary but I will always have a dedicated trail shoe & recommend a pair to anyone spending a significant amount of time off road. Since you're running in Newtons now, maybe give the BOCO a try, I use it for my winter shoe and any snowy road runs. It is also my trail shoe; normally I'm in either the gravity or distance.

2. HTFU? Maybe, this just seems like a classic case of specificity. You did not train for this race. You ran a lot, Yes, but not catering to the course conditions. It's easy to be 20% + slower on a trail than the roads. And if you don't know this & try to maintain your road pace you will just ABSOLUTLEY tank @ the end. It beats you up if you don't have the technical skills to adjust pace & effort over the terrain. Also, obstacles, becoming comfortable and having steady footing takes time. Physically and mentally it's a different battle than the sidewalk.

3. Don't underestimate the trail. 100% correct. It truly is a whole new type of running. I'd get out there and run some trails this winter anyway. It's a great way to add excitement to a cold run & it's a fantastic confidence builder once you can tackle rough trails. Just image if that race felt EASY at the finish - that means your flat ground road times would drastically improve. Lots of hills which, if you already do or need to incorporate hills into your training, trail running is a good way to do it. Also rest well though with the increased old on the body.

Don't beat yourself up. Happy running
2014-11-11 2:31 AM
in reply to: Brian W

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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
I entered a 'trail' running series this past winter (Aussie here). First race was just like my usual runs, gravel tracks with a few hills, second I missed due to being sick... Third... My god. So that's what trail running is. 5k's down hill, 10km back up hill. Ow. But I really enjoyed the experience.

Last race was another gravel track/single track course with a few hills... I entered on not much sleep, and no pre-race toilet ritual due to running late... But it was my favourite. Sunshine, relaxed. Bliss
2014-11-11 8:39 AM
in reply to: cartman1966

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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
You practically had zero training on a trail and expected to do well? That's like training for a run to race on a bike. Two different disciplines. I'd just chalk it up to not training for specificity. I love my trail shoes. I actually wear Inov-8 Trailroc 245 with pretty low cushion on them. Have been great so far on moderate to difficult trails and even finished ultra in these shoes. I typically wear Saucony Kinvara for road running.


2014-11-11 1:22 PM
in reply to: cartman1966

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Subject: RE: First trail race - fail!
Originally posted by cartman1966

Mostly single track with roots, stones and steep uphill/downhill sections.

3. Next time, do not underestimate the trail. I live close enough to have gotten there to practice.

Overall, I did enjoy the experience at first, but it was a tough, ego-killing day.



trail running is tough! When I train for a XTERRA style race, it's going to be a lot of simulation of the course I'll be racing on. The dodging of rocks and roots, puddles, logs, crazy up and down, and mixed terrain will sap your strength, as you now know!

Best to get on the trails you can and get some experience and training in. Off-road stuff takes a lot more out of you, so even a 10K can be brutal.
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